Are Push-Ups Harder if You Weigh More? (How to Start, FAQs)


Push-ups are one of the most easily accessible and popular bodyweight exercises that people can start with if they want to build more muscle and get lean.

Body weight effect on push-ups

In general, push-ups may be more difficult for people who weigh more because they have to lift a greater percentage of their body weight with each repetition.

However, the specific difficulty of push-ups can also depend on other factors such as muscle strength, body composition, and technique.

For example, people with stronger upper body muscles and good technique may be able to do push-ups more easily, regardless of their weight.

What portion of the body is lifted during push-ups

During a push-up, you are lifting a significant portion of your body weight. The exact amount of weight that you are lifting will depend on your body composition and the position of your body relative to the ground.

In general, the closer your body is to the ground, the less weight you will be lifting.

For example, when you are in a plank position with your arms fully extended, you will be lifting more of your body weight compared to when you are in a modified push-up position with your hands on a raised surface or your knees on the ground.

According to one estimate, the average person lifts around 65% of their body weight during a push-up. However, this can vary depending on the individual and the specific circumstances.

For example, someone who is taller or has longer arms may be lifting a smaller percentage of their body weight compared to someone who is shorter or has shorter arms.

Factors affecting the push-up difficulty

There are several factors that can make push-ups more difficult for some people:

  1. Body weight: As mentioned earlier, push-ups may be more difficult for people who weigh more because they have to lift a greater percentage of their body weight with each repetition. However, the specific difficulty of push-ups can also depend on other factors such as muscle strength, body composition, and technique.
  2. Muscle strength: If you have weaker upper body muscles, you may find push-ups more difficult. Building up your upper body strength through exercises such as push-ups, dips, and rows can help you improve your push-up ability.
  3. Body composition: Your body composition, or the proportion of fat and muscle in your body, can also affect the difficulty of push-ups. Someone with a higher percentage of muscle mass may find push-ups easier compared to someone with a higher percentage of body fat.
  4. Technique: Proper form and technique can make push-ups feel easier and more effective. Make sure to keep your body straight, and your core engaged, and avoid sagging or arching your back. Also, make sure that your hands are positioned correctly – they should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your fingers facing forward or slightly outward.
  5. Fitness level: Your overall fitness level can also affect the difficulty of push-ups. If you are new to exercise or have been inactive for a long period of time, you may find push-ups more difficult. However, with consistent effort and proper form, you can gradually build up your strength and improve your push-up ability.

How many push-ups to start with

If you are overweight and are new to push-ups, it is a good idea to start with modified push-up exercises such as wall push-ups, knee push-ups, or incline push-ups. These variations can be easier for people who weigh more or who are just starting to build upper body strength.

It is generally recommended to start with 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps and gradually increase the volume as you get stronger.

As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the number of reps and sets that you do.
Keep in mind that everyone is different and may progress at different rates.

It is important to listen to your body and progress at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

If you are struggling to do a certain number of reps, it is okay to take a break and rest for a minute or two before continuing.

Push-up variations to start with

These variations can help you gradually work up to full push-ups by decreasing the amount of weight that you need to lift. Here are a few examples of modified push-up exercises:

Wall push-ups

Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Keeping your feet a few steps away from the wall, bend your elbows and lower your body towards the wall, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Knee push-ups

Start in a plank position with your hands on the ground and your knees on the ground. Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Incline push-ups

Place your hands on a raised surface, such as a bench or step. Perform the push-up as you normally would, with your feet on the ground. The higher the surface, the easier the push-ups will be.

Resistance band push-ups

Loop a resistance band around your back and hold the ends in your hands. Perform the push-up as you normally would, using the resistance of the band to help you lift your body weight.

Other things to consider before doing push-ups

If you weigh more and want to do push-ups, here are a few other things to consider:

Proper form

Focusing on proper form and technique can help you get the most out of your push-ups and make them feel easier.

Proper form and the quality of each repetition are more important than the number of repetitions done.

There are a lot of online guides that can help with figuring out the proper form. Alternatively, you can ask an experienced friend or professional for advice and opinion on your form.

Other upper body exercises

Push-ups train the upper body, and a good way to progress faster is to use other supplemental exercises that can help you with your performance.

In addition to push-ups, you can also include other upper-body exercises in your workouts to help you build strength. Some examples include dips, bench presses, rows, and bicep curls.

Progressive overload

As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the difficulty of your push-ups by using more advanced variations such as plyometric push-ups or one-arm push-ups. You can also add weight to your push-ups by wearing a weighted vest or using dumbbells.

Remember to start slowly and progress gradually, and consult with a healthcare professional or a personal trainer if you have any concerns about your ability to do push-ups.

Take breaks and rest days

If you are just starting out, you may need to take breaks during your push-up workouts. It is okay to take a rest whenever you need it – just make sure to get back to your workout as soon as you can. As you get stronger, you will be able to do more push-ups without taking breaks.

Many people may get really motivated and go all out on working out, doing it every day. This is a recipe for burning out and should be avoided. The body needs time to rest and recuperate, so make sure to give it enough time to do that.

Consistency

To see progress and improve your push-up ability, it is important to be consistent with your workouts.

Try to do push-ups at least a few times a week, and gradually increase the number of reps and sets as you get stronger.

Use the right equipment

If you are doing push-ups on a hard surface, make sure to use a mat or other protective surface to cushion your hands and wrists. 

You may also want to consider using push-up bars, padded gloves or wrist wraps to help protect your joints and reduce the risk of injury.

Proper diet and lifestyle

Make sure to take steps to fix your diet and follow a healthy lifestyle.

Eating quality, nutrient-rich food and following a better lifestyle will not only help with weight loss but also improve your energy levels, motivation, and overall mood.

Check with a healthcare professional

If you are new to exercise or have any health concerns, it is a good idea to check with a healthcare professional before starting a new workout routine. They can help you determine the best exercises for your needs and make sure that you are safe and healthy while working out.

Miro Ste

Hi fitness enthusiasts, my name is Miro, and I am the person behind everphysique.com. Here I share my tips and trick about how to achieve the best physique possible. I focus primarily on old school bodybuilding methods that have been tried and tested. With a huge focus on calisthenics and street workout.

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